Week in Mobile: How '10000000' update ‘You Must Build a Boat’ became a brand new game
It's normal for developers to plan updates for their games, especially on mobile. But what’s interesting about Luca Redwood’s upcoming You Must Build a Boat (iOS, Android) is that it started as a simple update to match-3 role-playing game hybrid 10000000 and grew into a full-on sequel.
“I don't think I have a good excuse other than my lack of project-management experience,” Redwood told GameZone. “I just got way too excited and kept making more and more stuff.”
You Must Build a Boat takes the matching of 10000000 and pairs it with exploration and choose-your-own-adventure style choices. The goal is self-explanatory: Build a boat and make it better as you recruit a bigger, more talented crew and even monsters.
“One thing I've learned is that It's important to define what your are making — game or update — upfront, then work toward that goal,” said Redwood. “You can still prototype and iterate, but I was just making ‘an update,’ right? And it's really hard to qualify when ‘an update’ is finished and complete.”
Redwood said he spent a lot of time changing the core gameplay of 10000000 before he came back full circle. He opted for refinement, not a total revision.
“I think this is because the fast-paced, frenetic gameplay was what really worked about 10000000 — and I was changing the wrong thing,” he said. “So instead, I kind of said, ‘What didn't work so well in 10000000?’ Well, it could sometimes feel grindy, and it got a bit repetitive going to the same location again and again, and that’s how the different environments and CYOA elements came into YMBAB.”
Players go through a period of exploration and choices before they enter dungeons and do “the usual matchy attacky stuff,” Redwood said.
“My goal with these elements was to have something different every time. Each time you go in, you should have some unique choices to make, maybe an encounter you've never seen before? Or, maybe you have seen something like this before, but this time your answer is going to be very different because the situation is different. Maybe this dungeon is shaping up to be really hard, so you want to stack the odds in your favor, or maybe you'll take a risk to get a bunch of gold to buy an upgrade you really want.”
Those choices play into the monster-collecting as well. Monsters in your party add a layer of strategy by bringing with them different strengths and weaknesses that can either help or hurt you in battle, but recruiting them isn’t so simple.
“I wanted to give monsters a bigger role and personality, so how you behave during the game will affect how you'll capture monsters,” said Redwood. “So, say the Robber won't be very impressed if you decide not to loot that crypt. It's going to be harder to convince him to join your cause.”
Redwood said he “ended up going crazy” with all the new features he realized he could put into the game. He doesn’t have a big time constraint like before.
“This is a big one for me,” he said. “I made 10000000 in my spare time and quit my job after it did well enough that I could make some more games, but YMBAB has been my first time making a game full-time. I don't think I was really prepared for the practicalities of doing that.
“I thought, ‘This will either be a bit of a weird, incongruous, OTT update or a really cool sequel,’ and door number two sounded more appealing.”